by Stephen Johnson
Normally, a trip to Upper Canada Village means taking a step back about a 150 years in time. Our recent trip to the Village for a medieval festival, it meant going back about a 1000 years.
When we entered Upper Canada Village, we were greeted by Richard I. We knew we were in the right place for the festival. After our obligatory photo with the king, we experienced sensory overload. There were merchants, artisans, buskers, and knights in shining armour all re-creating a medieval village.
With my Nordic heritage, we decided to visit the Viking section of the village. There were a number of different tents where you could learn about how the Vikings made thread and weapons amongst other things. It was like visiting a museum but everything was brought to life. A highlight was watching the Viking warriors leading a charge. I was sure to get out of the way!
We moved on to the family fun zone where kids could try a variety of games with a medieval twist. Our son, David, first tried a catapult where he shot a golf ball through various targets. His favorite game was when he got to shoot a stick with a device similar to a bow and arrow. He hit the target with ease. I thought they should have these type of games at the local fair where at least the odds were even to win.
After we were done with the games, it was time for the war. We were going to watch the warriors battle. Our selfie buddy, King Richard opened the ceremonies with a few words. We were treated to seeing life-sized siege weapons including a catapult. It was impressive the distance the catapult launched a rock. Next up were the archers. We learned about the history of the English longbow and the devastation it caused at the Battle of Crecy between the French and English. I kept thinking what a better history lesson this was than learning from a textbook or video.
The finale was knights fighting in full armor. It was an impressive sight. Large men hit each other with swords, axes and various other weapons. There was a respect and camaraderie between the participants but I am sure the blows still hurt. The crowd got into the event like it was a pro-wrestling spectacular with people picking sides. Once the battles had finished the crowd gave the knights a well-deserved cheer.
There are many other events going on at Upper Canada Village throughout the summer. A few highlights include the War of 1812 reenactment on July 14 and 15. Sunday mornings are great for those on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing difficulties. Sensory accommodations will include schedule and itinerary suggestions, quiet spaces, hands-on opportunities and gentle social interactions with Village staff.
For more information about Upper Canada Village and all their activities, visit, www.uppercanadavillage.com